Like most other standard operating procedures within the military, there is a written policy for the storing and safekeeping of mechanical keys. Keys for padlocks, file cabinets, offices and so on must be controlled and accounted for, usually by a key control custodian, and a precise record kept of key usage. But even in today’s triplicate form-dependent military, there is a trend toward electronic documentation, and automated key management systems are replacing manual procedures with computerized control and real-time accountability.
High tech key cabinets automatically record the access history of each key, including user, date and time of key access/return. The system releases assigned keys only to users with the proper authorization and cannot be manipulated or easily tampered with. Authorized users can access keys for which they have been pre-programmed to use by entering their PIN code and/or biometric identification. If the criteria entered matches the information stored in the system data base, the key cabinet will unlock and the necessary key can be removed or returned.
By using data management software, custodians can generate practical management reports which trace key movements by time, date and user code as well as audit reports that track keys in use and overdue keys; inconsistent key usage; and database listings that show how the system is programmed. Built-in schedulers can be programmed to automatically download all data to a secure PC as required by the user, including online as transactions occur; periodically; daily at a specified time; weekly with specified day and time; or monthly with specified day and time.
Another of the attributes that makes key control systems so effective in a military environment is the capability to custom design the system for a particular requirement. Modules can be configured with the exact components needed for the application, such as key slots, plastic card key slots or large single or dual lockers to manage larger objects as efficiently as managing keys. For multiple key storage, tamper-proof key ring systems can accommodate several keys on a single key ring and keys can be added or removed without destroying the ring.
Today’s high tech key control systems provide the efficiency and functionality needed to match the evolving needs of a military application.